There has been a great deal of attention paid recently to the exodus from traditional churches by young adults. We are told that we are losing our future to a generation uninterested in the churches and denominations of their parents. Nones they’re called. Probably Christian but certainly not religious.
There are going to be books, conferences, consultants consulting, all in an effort to stem the erosion and lure those leaving back to the sanctuary, some of which might actually be effective. Those that believe the traditional church is no longer relevant are simply wrong. Traditional church as we know it isn’t going to die, but will probably continue to be a shrinking part of the spiritual life of our country for the foreseeable future.
Which still leaves us with the problem. Young people are fleeing organized religion and we don’t know what to do, worse yet, nothing we are trying is working. So do we just give up and join ranks around a shrinking institution, do we redouble our efforts, devise new tactics? Or maybe we can redefine the “problem”?
What are these “Nones” really saying? For many of them their disillusion is with the church, not Jesus. So really we have an enormous common ground with them. We all think Jesus is cool, so why argue with them about their feelings about religion when what we should be doing is to encourage them to form their own faith communities, better yet we should be reaching them where they’re at.
We all need to be among a community of believers, but worship is not a one size fits all deal, and that segment of the population that believes that church IS irrelevant needs to be addressed in ways that traditional churches can’t. It will be in ways that discard the hierarchical structure of churches, that gives real responsibility to laypeople and new believers, that regards Christian service to the community as more important than sermons and songs.
Who, after all, decided that the only acceptable worship is that worship that takes place inside the walls of a sanctuary?